Cool fall and cold winter days always put me in the mood for good old-fashioned homemade soup — dinner in a pot and it smells sooooo good simmering away on the stove. So, my soup pot today contains Hamburger Soup in the making. Continue reading Hamburger Soup
Yes, it can be chilly after a sleigh ride and there is nothing better to warm up with than a bowl of hot, homemade Chili Con Carne afterward! Nothing stirs up a great appetite better than lots of fresh country air!
PEI has seen its fair share (well, some might say, more than our fair share) of snow this winter. While, for some of us, the snow means work shoveling and challenges getting around and planning for events, for others it means business.
There are a number of farms on the Island that offer sleigh rides throughout the winter months. Thanks to Mother Nature sending lots of snow to the Island, this year has been exceptionally good for the sleigh ride business.
The photos of the sleigh ride that appear in this posting were all taken at Potts Farm in Bonshaw, on the South side of PEI. Their sleigh rides take you through fabulous trails of the woodlands of their farm.
Before we headed out to Potts Farm, I made this big pot of my favorite chili to have ready when we got home.
A chili con carne meal is very easy to prepare because it, essentially, is a meal in one pot. One of the things I like about chili is that it can be adapted according to ones likes and tastes. For example, if you don’t like green pepper, simply leave it out. To achieve a mild or spicy chili according to your taste preference, adjust the amount of chili powder and garlic added. I like my chili mild-flavored and full-bodied (as opposed to “runny”), meaning I like to add lots of ingredients like onions, celery, green pepper, fresh mushrooms, canned tomatoes, and kidney beans so that it is a nice, thick, chili but still has some juice to it. I also like lots of tomato flavor so, in addition to the canned tomatoes, I add both a can of tomato soup and one of tomato paste. Once all the chopping of veggies is done and the cans opened, it’s pretty much just a matter of combining them all in a soup pot and letting them simmer for a good hour or more to allow the flavors to mix and mingle.
Chili freezes well and I freeze it in individual, portion-sized containers to have ready for quick packing of the lunch bag on those weekday mornings when time is always at a premium. Add a crusty roll, bread, or biscuits, and it makes a substantial tasty and filling lunch.
My recipe for chili follows. My featured Island product in this recipe is the ground beef which I purchased at KJL Select Meats butcher shop that is co-located with Riverview Country Market in Charlottetown, PEI. If you are on PEI and have not yet had a chance to visit this butcher shop, I would encourage you to do so. They have great Island meat available.
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Chili Con Carne
2 tbsp oil
1 cup onion, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1½ lb lean or extra-lean ground beef
1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2 – 14 oz. cans kidney beans, undrained
1 – 10 oz. can tomato soup
1 – 5½ oz. can tomato paste
1 – 2 tsp chili powder, to taste
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp liquid beef bouillon
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
In large pot, heat oil. Add onion, green pepper, celery, and minced garlic clove.
Quickly sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add ground beef and cook until browned.
Add remaining ingredients (including the canned tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato soup, and tomato paste and seasonings) except the mushrooms which will be added later.
Bring ingredients just to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to simmer. Cover and slowly cook the chili for about 30 minutes, then add and stir in the sliced mushrooms.
Cover and simmer for another 30-40 minutes. Serve hot with French bread, crusty rolls, or homemade biscuits. If desired, garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and/or sliced green onions.
Yield: 8-10 servings
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Still continuing on with my “comfort food” theme in January, today’s dinner consists of old-fashioned meatloaf with fluffy riced potatoes and veggies. Meatloaf is a great way to extend ground meat and also to give it a boost of flavour.
Meatloaf is usually made with ground beef although other ground meats, such as poultry, pork, or lamb, may also be used. What gives it its name is obvious – it is meat that is shaped into a loaf pan. The loaf shape makes it easy to get really nice, neat slices of the loaf for plating. While meatloaf is generally baked in the regular oven, there are recipes for meatloaf prepared in slow cookers.
The ingredients in meatloaf can be very basic and simple or they can be relatively sophisticated. My recipe is somewhere in between. In addition to the meat, meatloaf will have one or more binding agents such as eggs, breadcrumbs, rolled oats, and/or graham wafer crumbs. The trick to making a meatloaf really tasty is to add some good seasonings and a tasty sauce on top.
Traditionally, meatloaf is served with mashed potatoes and a favorite vegetable or two. I find various ways of presenting potatoes work well with meatloaf — baked potatoes or scalloped potatoes, for example. In the photos in this posting you will see that I used riced potatoes. Are you familiar with a potato ricer? It looks like this:
Seriously, this makes the fluffiest potatoes. The potato ricer operates on the same premise as a garlic press. Simply place hot cooked potatoes into the perforated basket of the ricer. The top handle of the ricer is fitted with a flat metal plate. Pressing the two handles of the ricer together forces the flat metal plate to put pressure on the potatoes, forcing the potatoes through the tiny holes in the ricer. When the potatoes are pressed through a potato ricer, this is what they look like:
Oh, and of course, we can’t leave out the mustard pickles! The sharpness of the pickle flavour compliments meatloaf particularly well.
Here is the recipe for my meatloaf. My featured Island product in today’s recipe is Island beef from KJL Select Meats butcher shop co-located with Riverview Country Market in Charlottetown, PEI.
[Printable recipes follows at end of post]
1½ lb lean or extra-lean ground beef
2-3 tbsp grated onion
2 tsp prepared mustard
½ – 284ml can tomato soup (reserve remaining half can of soup for topping)
⅓ cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten with fork
2 tbsp dry onion soup mix
½ cup graham wafer crumbs
½ cup fine bread crumbs
¼ tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ – 284 ml can tomato soup
1½ tbsp prepared mustard
1½ tbsp brown sugar
½ tbsp molasses
1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 350º.
Line 9”x5” loaf pan with tin foil. Grease or spray with cooking oil. Lining the pan with foil makes it easier to remove the meatloaf and slice it. It also makes clean up a breeze.
In large bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients and mix well.
Press meat mixture into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for one-half hour before adding sauce to top of meatloaf.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing all 5 ingredients together. Stir until well-combined.
After one-half hour, remove meatloaf from oven and spread sauce over meatloaf. (I am not sure why the sauce differs in color in each of the photographs below but the color of it spread over the entire loaf in the bottom right-hand photo is the true color.)
Return loaf to oven and bake for 1 additional hour.
Let meatloaf rest in pan on cooling rack for at least 15-20 minutes or more before removing and slicing. If you slice it when it is too hot, the slices tend to break apart.
Serve warm with your favorite potatoes and side vegetable(s).
This meatloaf freezes very well and is a staple in my freezer. To reheat, remove meatloaf slices from freezer and allow to thaw. Re-heat in covered casserole in microwave for a few seconds per slice.
- 1½ lb lean or extra-lean ground beef
- 2-3 tbsp grated onion
- 2 tsp prepared mustard
- ½ - 284 ml can tomato soup (reserve remaining half can for topping)
- ⅓ cup milk
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten with fork
- 2 tbsp dry onion soup mix
- ½ cup graham wafer crumbs
- ½ cup fine bread crumbs
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ - 284 ml can tomato soup
- 1½ tbsp prepared mustard
- 1½ tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tbsp molasses
- 1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350º
- Line 9”x5” loaf pan with tin foil. Grease.
- In large bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients and mix well. Press into prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for ½ hour then spread topping over meatloaf. Return loaf to oven and bake for 1 hour.
- Serve warm with mashed potatoes and your favourite vegetable(s).
Yield: Serves 4-6
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